Nestor Cortes slams 2023 Yankees season as ‘bad’

Nestor Cortes, player of the New York Yankees

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Nestor Cortes, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, in an interview for NJ.com candidly reflected on a season filled with both personal and team disappointments. As he looks back on the year, Cortes doesn’t mince words about how it panned out. “For me, bad. For the team, bad. I wish that I could have helped out more,” he admits, setting the tone for our discussion.

Heading into spring training earlier that year, the Yankees appeared to have all the pieces in place for a special season. With Aaron Judge back and the addition of Carlos Rodon to the rotation, the team seemed poised for greatness. Cortes couldn’t help but be optimistic as he looked at the season ahead. “We believed we would be a World Series team. I believed that,” he said.

Waning optimism and lost faith

Nestor Cortes, player of the New York Yankees

However, as the season progressed, the optimism began to wane. Late in the summer, it became clear that the management had lost faith in the team, as they practically ignored the trade deadline. By late August, the Yankees had started giving opportunities to young prospects, and Cortes couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief. “Last year we were winning a lot of games that we lost this year, whether it not getting a clutch hit or the pitchers not putting up that zero in an inning where we needed it. It just went the other way for us this year,” he lamented.

So, what caused the 2023 season to go awry for the Yankees? In Cortes’s view, there were multiple factors at play. He explained, “There are probably a lot of guys here that felt like they underperformed and weren’t their usual self, including myself. Obviously, the injury for me was a big blow.”

Nestor Cortes Jr. reflects on the Yankees and his journey

Nestor Cortes, player of the New York Yankees

Injuries indeed took a toll on the Yankees throughout the season. A total of 28 players went on the injured list for a staggering 38 stints. This constant upheaval disrupted the team’s chemistry and prevented them from fielding their best lineup consistently. Losing key players like Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo to injuries further hampered their efforts. Cortes echoed these concerns when he said, “Staying healthy, that’s the biggest thing for next year, for sure. We had so many players hurt. Losing Judge really hurt. Rizzo’s injury hurt.”

Given the turbulent season, one can’t help but wonder about the direction of the Yankees as an organization. Will they return to their former glory in the next season? Cortes has faith in the organization’s commitment to excellence. He noted, “The focus always has been on the Yankees living up to expectations. We owe it to the fans, and I’m sure the front office is going to do its hardest to put the best product out there for sure.”

An interesting development in the latter part of the season was the opportunity given to young prospects. The Yankees fielded many young players, and Cortes sees this as a positive sign for the future. He shared, “As far as the young kids, I think it’s great that they got this opportunity to showcase what they’ve got. We saw Dominguez do what he did for a week. Unfortunately, he got hurt. The young pitchers here, Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito, held their own. And look at what Clarke Schmidt and Michael King did this year. Clarke wasn’t even expected to be in the rotation, and he stepped up huge. Where would we be without him?”

Cortes’s hope for the future is buoyed by the promising performances of these young talents. He remains confident about the upcoming season, believing that the organization will continue to make the necessary moves to put a competitive team on the field.

Amid the discussion of the turbulent season and the Yankees’ future, Cortes also shared insights into his personal journey in 2023. He described his season as “bad” and recalled the challenges he faced. “The struggles after the fourth inning got in my head. Then I got hurt. When I came back for that Houston game, I was lights out in my four innings. I was thinking, ‘If that’s going to be me for the rest of the year, this will be great.’ Then right away I was shut down again,” he said, highlighting the roller-coaster nature of his season.

Despite the challenges, Cortes remains optimistic about his personal journey. When asked about his confidence in being at 100% for the next season, he shared, “I’ve been throwing bullpens. I feel good. The plan has been to throw a couple of weeks after the season at home in Miami, then shut it down. I want to make sure I start my offseason program on time and then have no setbacks.”

Cortes also offered a glimpse into his life beyond baseball. He mentioned his involvement in harness racing, which took an unexpected turn during the season. He and a Yankees trainer had purchased a harness-racing horse named Tam Major A early in the year, but they had to sell it. Now, he’s looking to buy a younger horse at an upcoming auction. In addition to horse racing, Cortes plans to spend time fishing with his father at their place in Key Largo. He’s also engaged and shared that he would be getting married in Miami on November 25.

As the interview drew to a close, the conversation veered towards his fiancée, Alondra. He explained how they had met, saying, “We met at a restaurant in Miami where she was working. I went there right after the 2015 season. We talked, hit it off, and have been together ever since.” Despite not being initially familiar with baseball, Alondra has become a fan, particularly of the legendary Roberto Clemente. Cortes shared, “She’s a big Roberto Clemente fan. She didn’t really know all the baseball lingo until we were together, but now she’s all in.”

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